I’m going to keep this short – but all any Phillies’ fan has been thinking about recently is how on earth we have any chance at repeating with the disaster that is Lidge and Madson in the 9th.
Here is my solution, and personally, I think it is the only solution with Myers out for a little, Madson failing in the 9th, Park out and Pedro pitching so poorly in the 1st inning in his starts (5 runs in 8 1st innings). Use Pedro Martinez as the 4th starter in the playoffs and insert J.A. Happ as your closer.
The reasons are simple…
- He’s good – Or more specifically, he’s tough to hit and doesn’t allow a lot of baserunners. Happ’s 1.20 WHIP is good for 10th best in the NL, and his ERA is good for 5th. In his 21 starts he has allowed only 3 1st inning runs the entire year. His pitching style is deceptive, which means that over-throwing or trouble getting loose would probably not be a problem. He also gets by mostly on his fastball, meaning there is less likely to be a situation where he gets hammered because he can’t control his breaking pitches. Finally, I believe he has the poise to be successful in big pressure situations. He showed poise in the playoffs last year, and didn’t get rattled with runners on base this year.
- There is a precedent - In 2006, the Cardinals were cruising towards the NL Central title, but their weakest link was their closer, Jason Isringhausen, who blew his 10th save in early September. They entered the playoffs without a true closer, but you might have heard of the man they used – 2009 Cy Young candidate Adam Wainwright. They clearly viewed Wainwright as a future starter, but used him where they had to. The one difference from Happ is that he was predominantly used as a reliever during the regular season as well. Wainwright’s numbers in his first playoff experience? 9.2 IP, 0 runs, 5 saves, 1 World Championship.
So that’s the way I see it – Happ is the only option at closer if we want a realistic chance at repeating. A little outside the box, but I think it would work. What do you think?